The 5 Step Process to Track Weight Loss, Anxiety, Fitness – and Literally Anything Else You Can Think Of!
Have you ever started tracking something, then stopped? Why?
I’m pretty sure your answer will be something to do with it not offering you enough information. You might say you got bored, or you forgot, but would you have felt that way, if the data you were getting from it was useful?
I started – and stopped – tracking many things, many times until I found a five-step process. I have not stopped tracking anything, except when I’ve hit a goal, since I came up with this method.
I hope that these principles will give you everything you need to reach your goals!
Step One: Pick Your Outcome
What do you want to achieve as an outcome? This needs to be something measurable and specific (e.g. your mass or minutes of activity that day). My advice is also that you only look at one outcome for the first couple of weeks, before adding more over time.
If you have something qualitative that you want to achieve, you can still track it. Having less anxiety was a goal for me. I could’ve used a simple tick/cross for “Yes, I was anxious” or “No, I wasn’t anxious”, but I was able to go deeper. I do this by assigning a numeric system – out of ten, out of one hundred, whatever feels ‘right’ to you.
Establishing the outcome can be difficult if you feel unsure about how to define it. One of my goals, for example, was ‘physical and mental wellbeing’ which, as helpful as it would be, is quite ‘woolly’. For a start, there are at least two goals in there, as the most effective activity is likely to be different for each. I decided to prioritise my mental wellbeing. I set a clearer goal for myself of ‘daily anxiety score below one for thirty continuous days’.
Once you hone in on your outcome, it’s time to look at it in depth.
Step Two: What Could You Track?
For every outcome, there are myriad different things that you could track. My advice is to only stick to those that give you the information you need.
Begin by making a list of everything that could be tracked to reach your goal. My list for lowering my daily anxiety score was as follows:
Meditation, self-care, fitness, time off work, breathwork, self-help reading, get to bed by 8.30 pm, asking for help, speaking with friends and family, therapy sessions, sugar consumption, and online course attendance.
Step 3: The ‘Already Do Thats’
Obviously, I didn’t want to track all of those above behaviours. I began by working out which I felt would have the most obvious and most effective benefits to my goal. First, I eliminated those things I already did automatically (e.g. getting to bed by 2030, and avoiding refined sugar).
If you already do those things and are not already where you want to be, they’re obviously not enough on their own. Your time tracking is better spent on those areas that will create real change. A daily ego stroke of ticking off a habit you’ve had in place for years is nice, but doesn’t help you.
Step 4: Where to Start
You now have a list of all sorts of things that you could try. Are there very obvious ones you should track for what you want to do? For example, if you want to lose weight, the three basics to track would be weight, calorie burn, and calorie consumption.
These will not necessarily remain the things you track. The beauty is that if you don’t get results, you can increase the things you track or track different activities. With my weight loss journey, I was only able to see what worked for me, once I added macro tracking.
Step 5: How to Track
It’s all very well committing to tracking, but you also need to find a method that works, and that you feel comfortable with. This might be a spreadsheet, an app, a chart on the wall, or even a simple notebook.
The method actually isn’t that important – all methods record the same things. What is important is that it fits in with you and your lifestyle. If you travel a lot, an app is probably more useful than a chart on the wall. If you’re not a fan of tech, perhaps a notebook is the way to go.
Once you get started using these steps, the world is your oyster! Begin by seeing how the outcome you’re tracking looks alongside the activities. Are there trends? Can you see what is driving your outcome? If not, it’s time to rethink the data that you’re tracking, or change what behaviours you’re testing out.
When you’ve settled into using a tracking method that suits you, you can start figuring out other goals. Quite honestly, you can track any outcome. If you don’t believe me, just look at what outcomes I’ve tracked for over the years – housework, anxiety, deadlift strength training, clear skin, exam study, and more besides!